Mon, 24 Jan 2000

KPP HAM to verify TNI's role in East Timor mayhem

JAKARTA (JP): The government-sanctioned Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor is likely to verify the alleged involvement of the Indonesian Military (TNI) in the post-ballot violence in the territory, a team member said on Saturday.

Human rights activist Munir said after completing its four- month long investigation and questioning of a number of top military top brass, the commission found evidence that military personnel were either involved in or failed to prevent the violence.

"It seems that military officers at almost all levels of command will be held responsible for the violence, although there are degrees of responsibility," he told The Jakarta Post.

However, Munir, who is also the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), refused to mention the names and ranks of the alleged officers.

Munir added that KPP HAM also found evidence to verify that there was "physical violence, enforced displacement and a campaign of destruction" in the territory after the August ballot.

KPP HAM is scheduled to announce its findings by the end of this month and will hand over the findings to Attorney General Marzuki Darusman through the National Commission on Human Rights.

The military top brass questioned, including former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto, have all denied the accusations, saying that the violence was neither premeditated or controllable.

Munir's statement came as a team of six lawyers representing the officers were in the East Timor capital of Dili to interview members of the proindependence National Resistance Council for East Timor (CNRT) and top United Nations and church officials.

The team, whose members include former justice minister Muladi and noted lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution, arrived in the territory on Thursday and was scheduled to spend four days in Dili.

One day before the lawyers' departure, foreign minister Alwi Shihab left for New York in an effort to persuade UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan not to proceed with an international tribunal until the national probe was taken into account.

During their meeting here early in December last year, both the UN and national inquiry teams acknowledged that they were of the same conclusion that TNI was involved in the debacle.

Marzuki will also leave for New York on Saturday to meet with top UN officials to discuss the progress of the international inquiry on East Timor.

Marzuki is due to meet with U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is currently president of the UN Security Council, on Tuesday.

Jakarta has objected to the establishment of a UN rights inquiry on East Timor, saying it was capable of investigating allegations of atrocities and human rights abuses, and would not be bound by the UN findings.

Marzuki said earlier that if KPP HAM found evidence of rights abuses, an ad hoc committee would be established to prosecute the perpetrators in a national human rights tribunal.

Meanwhile a team of defense lawyers representing the military generals on Sunday completed their search for evidence in East Timor to support their clients.

However they were not able to get a single witness who would testify on behalf of the military officials.

Adnan Buyung Nasution admitted that witnesses seemed resistant when asked to testify for the defense.

"We have run into a snag because we have not found any witnesses we can interview," he said in Dili as quoted by Antara. (01/byg)